How Do You Determine What Trailer I Can Haul?

As a vehicle owner, you may have found yourself in need of transporting your vehicle from one place to another. Whether you're moving, attending a car show, or buying a car from a different state, you'll need a trailer to haul your vehicle. The first step in this process is determining what size trailer you need. In this guide, we'll break down everything you need to know to make an informed decision.

Understanding Trailer Types and Sizes

When it comes to hauling vehicles, choosing the right trailer is crucial. With so many different types of trailers available, it can be challenging to know which one is right for you. Here, we'll take a closer look at the various types of trailers available and their differences.

Open vs. Enclosed Trailers

One of the primary decisions you'll need to make when selecting a trailer is whether to go for an open or enclosed design. Open trailers are those without any roof or walls, while enclosed trailers are those with a roof and walls to protect your vehicle from debris and the elements.

While open trailers are generally less expensive than enclosed ones, they offer less protection for your vehicle. If you're transporting a high-value car or one that you want to keep in pristine condition, an enclosed trailer may be the better option. Enclosed trailers are also ideal for long-distance trips where weather conditions can vary.

Flatbed vs. Tilt Trailers

Another important consideration is whether to opt for a flatbed or tilt trailer. Flatbed trailers are those with a flat surface to place your vehicle on, while tilt trailers have a hydraulic system that tilts the bed to allow for loading and unloading.

If you're transporting a low car, a tilt trailer is an excellent option as it prevents damage during loading and unloading. Flatbed trailers, on the other hand, are more versatile and can be used to transport a wide range of vehicles, including larger ones that may not fit on a tilt trailer.

Single vs. Double Axle Trailers

The number of axles on a trailer is another factor to consider. A single axle trailer has one set of wheels, while a double axle has two sets of wheels.

Double axle trailers are generally more stable and provide better weight distribution than single-axle trailers. They're also better suited for transporting heavier vehicles or larger loads. However, they're typically more expensive than single-axle trailers.

Ultimately, the trailer you choose will depend on your specific needs and budget. By understanding the differences between the various types of trailers available, you'll be better equipped to make an informed decision that meets your requirements.

Determining Your Vehicle's Weight and Dimensions

Before you decide on a trailer size, it's important to understand your vehicle's weight and dimensions. This information will help you choose a trailer that's safe and appropriate for your vehicle.

When towing a trailer, it's crucial to ensure that your vehicle can handle the weight of both the trailer and its contents. Overloading your vehicle can cause damage to your car and create a safety hazard on the road.

Finding Your Vehicle's Curb Weight

The first step in determining your vehicle's towing capacity is to find its curb weight. Curb weight is the weight of your vehicle without any passengers or cargo. You can find this information in your vehicle's manual or by searching online.

It's important to note that curb weight can vary depending on your vehicle's make and model, as well as any modifications you may have made. Make sure to use the most accurate and up-to-date information when calculating your vehicle's curb weight.

Knowing your vehicle's curb weight will help you choose a trailer with the right weight capacity. You'll want to select a trailer that's well within your vehicle's towing capacity to ensure that you can safely tow it without putting excessive strain on your car.

Measuring Your Vehicle's Length, Width, and Height

Measuring your vehicle's length, width, and height is also crucial in determining the appropriate trailer size. Be sure to consider the height of the vehicle, including any antennas or spoilers.

When selecting a trailer, you'll want to ensure that it's wide enough to accommodate your vehicle and any other equipment you may be carrying. You'll also want to make sure that the trailer is long enough to safely transport your cargo without overhanging the back of the trailer.

Additionally, you'll need to consider the height of the trailer. If your vehicle has a low ground clearance, you'll want to select a trailer that's low to the ground to avoid scraping the bottom of your car.

By taking the time to accurately measure your vehicle and understand its weight capacity, you'll be able to select a trailer that's safe and appropriate for your needs. Happy towing!

Matching Trailer Capacity to Your Vehicle's Weight

Now that you have your vehicle's weight and dimensions, you need to ensure that the trailer you choose has the right capacity. Choosing the right trailer can make all the difference in the world when it comes to the safety and security of your vehicle and the people and cargo inside of it. Here are some important things to consider when matching trailer capacity to your vehicle's weight.

Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR)

The gross vehicle weight rating is the maximum weight that a trailer can carry, including the weight of the trailer. This is an extremely important factor to consider when choosing a trailer, as exceeding your trailer's GVWR can cause serious damage to the trailer or even lead to an accident. Your trailer's GVWR should exceed your vehicle's weight to prevent overloading.

It's important to note that the GVWR is not the same as the trailer's actual weight. The GVWR takes into account the weight of the trailer itself, as well as any cargo or passengers that might be inside.

Payload Capacity

The payload capacity is the weight that a trailer can carry without exceeding its GVWR. This is another crucial factor to consider when choosing a trailer, as exceeding the payload capacity can damage the trailer or cause an accident.

When calculating your trailer's payload capacity, it's important to take into account not just the weight of the cargo you'll be carrying, but also the weight of any passengers or equipment that will be in the trailer.

Tongue Weight Considerations

The tongue weight is the weight exerted on the hitch ball by the trailer. It should be 10-15% of the trailer's total weight for proper weight distribution. This is important for a number of reasons, including better handling and stability on the road.

When calculating your trailer's tongue weight, it's important to take into account the weight of any cargo or passengers that will be in the trailer, as well as the weight of the trailer itself.

By taking the time to carefully match your trailer's capacity to your vehicle's weight, you can ensure a safe and secure trip every time you hit the road.

Additional Factors to Consider

Aside from trailer types, sizes, and weight capacities, there are several other factors to consider before choosing the right trailer for your vehicle. These factors can make a significant difference in the safety and efficiency of your transport.

Towing Vehicle Requirements

One of the most critical factors to consider is the towing vehicle's requirements. The towing vehicle should have enough capacity to tow your vehicle and the trailer without any issues. Check your vehicle's manual for its towing capacity and ensure your towing vehicle meets that requirement. It is also essential to ensure that your towing vehicle has the correct hitch and wiring to connect to the trailer.

Trailer Brakes and Suspension

Trailer brakes and suspension affect stability and stopping ability, especially when loaded. A trailer with a good braking system and suspension is essential for safe transport. There are several types of trailer brakes, including electric, hydraulic, and surge brakes. Electric brakes are the most common and use an electric current from the towing vehicle to activate the brakes. Hydraulic brakes use hydraulic fluid to activate the brakes, while surge brakes use a hydraulic surge to activate the brakes. It is essential to choose the right type of brakes for your trailer and ensure they are properly installed and maintained.

The trailer's suspension system is also critical for safe transport. It helps absorb shocks and vibrations, ensuring a smooth ride for your vehicle. There are several types of suspension systems, including leaf spring, torsion bar, and air suspension. Leaf spring suspension is the most common and consists of several layers of metal springs stacked on top of each other. Torsion bar suspension uses a metal bar that twists to absorb shocks, while air suspension uses airbags to absorb shocks. It is essential to choose the right type of suspension system for your trailer and ensure it is properly installed and maintained.

Local Laws and Regulations

Before hitting the road, it is crucial to check local laws and regulations regarding the size and weight of the trailer. Each state has its own regulations, and it is essential to ensure compliance to avoid any legal issues. Overloading your trailer can also be dangerous and cause accidents, so it is essential to know the weight capacity of your trailer and ensure you do not exceed it.

Choosing the right trailer size requires careful consideration of various factors, from your vehicle's weight and dimensions to the trailer's capacity, type, and local laws and regulations. With this guide, you are better equipped to make an informed decision and transport your vehicle safely and efficiently.

Reviewed by Alex Ross

Content Editor, responsible for maintaining the quality and accuracy of the information presented on our blog.

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